Rich in beauty and history, the Lower Trail is not to be missed when one is in central Pennsylvania! Covering nearly 17 miles, this scenic, rural rail trail winds along the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River, following the route of the former Pennsylvania Railroad's Petersburg Branch. It is open to all non-motorized uses, including hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, birdwatching, and yes, dog walking, so bring your pup along!
The Lower (rhymes with “flower”) Trail stretches from Alfarata to Flowing Spring, where you'll find the northern and southern trailheads, respectively. In between these two termini are four more trailheads, or stations, as they're called. All six stations are equipped with parking, picnic pavilions, and chemical toilets. Regardless of which station you start from, you'll find the trail to be flat, easy, and definitely enjoyable.
Because much of the trail was part of the original towpath of the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal, you and Fido will come across several canal remnants along the way. These include traces of lock tenders' houses and the Mount Etna iron plantation. Other historical features along the route are a covered bridge and remains of equipment from abandoned stone quarries. And with sections of the trail identified as “Important Birding Areas” by the Audubon Society, you may spot bald eagles, ospreys, and other wildlife during your hike. The trail is also lined with many lovely plant species, some of which are rare.
The Lower Trail is unique in that it is privately owned and entirely maintained by volunteers, yet it is available to the public for free. Help keep the trail clean and beautiful by always picking up after your pooch and leaving no trace. You'll be sharing the path with different users, including cyclists and horseback riders, so make sure Fido stays on a 6-foot leash at all times. Also, don't forget to bring enough water to stay hydrated. Experience the natural charm of central Pennsylvania with your canine companion on the pawmazing Lower Trail!
Some parts of the trail may have less shade, so bring a hat and sunscreen!